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Posted on February 12th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Magdalene Taylor

River Whyless fits right in with that breed of indie folk rock that’s been cultivated along the mainstream lines of Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers. Appropriately from Asheville, N.C., Their latest self titled EP (their first release since their 2012 debut, A Stone, A Leaf, An Unfound Door) is devoted to a wholesome, mountain-life vibe, complete with lyrics about tapping trees for maple syrup. While the genre, as a whole, seems a bit overrun and overdone, there is something undeniably fresh about River Whyless. With an emphasis on simple beats that push them into the realm of experimental, combined with the classic-ness of an acoustic guitar and pretty duet vocals, their latest EP comes across clean, authentic, and broadly likeable.

It admittedly takes a few minutes (say, the majority of the first song) to begin to take in, comprehend, and appreciate River Whyless’ sound, even on a superficial level. This first track, “Life Crisis,” is relatively unassuming. There are duet vocals, some light acoustic guitar, and an upbeat slapping rhythm that drives the song. It’s not until the second track, “Maple Sap,” that the band’s penchant for these rhythms is adequately clear. Here, the driving beat is much less stomping, and is intermixed with violin. There’s a clear tone of low, woodsy, beauty that is somewhat melancholic and provides unique character.

Every song on the EP can similarly be defined in terms of its unique character. Each song is of a noticeably different tone and is entirely un-repetitious from the rest. “Bath Salt,” for example, is defined by the rhythmic inflections of the solo female vocals, which are of a higher pitch than in the rest of the album. Rhythm truly does penetrate every aspect of the EP, even in its lack of strong presence in the final, sleepy, love song, “Fine Companion.”

River Whyless has the ability to give definition and personality to a genre characterized by simplicity and tradition. This is mainly the result of their ability to manipulate beat and rhythm in creative ways that produce a sound ranging from high spirits to low. However, even apart from this, River Whyless has skill and beauty throughout. Even with their complexity, their music is easy and undemanding while still encouraging you to pay attention. River Whyless’ EP combines classic and experimental in folk music, creating a sound that is totally their own.

Track List

  1. Life Crisis
  2. Maple Sap
  3. Bath Salt
  4. Miles of Skyline
  5. Fine Companion
River Whyless - River Whyless EP Review
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Our Rating

71 / 100
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